Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis admitted his side lacked quality in the final third during their 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Championship play-offs but insisted the tie isn’t over.
Boro dominated possession but only managed four shots on target, as Mile Jedinak’s first-half header gave Steve Bruce’s side a slender advantage ahead of Tuesday’s second leg at Villa Park.
The visitors almost snatched a second before half time but Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph tipped Robert Snodgrass’ effort onto the post.
"I was more concerned about the other end"
However, Pulis was more concerned about the chances created in the opposition’s box.
“I think that was their only shot on target so the set-play and one shot on target was all we had to contend with. I was more concerned about that little bit of quality at the other end,” said Pulis.
“Obviously we are disappointed, I thought we did enough not to lose the game today but it’s small margins and the set-play is a disappointment.
“Villa are in the ascendency in the tie, we’ve got to go to Villa Park in front of a full house so that gives them the advantage. There’s still 90 minutes to play and anything can happen.”
Traore can still make a difference
Villa manager Steve Bruce heaped praise on full-back Alan Hutton who kept Boro dangerman Adama Traore on the fringes.
The pacey winger switched flanks midway through the first half but was unable to make a major impact and was often surrounded by black shirts whenever he received the ball.
Even so, Pulis still believes the tricky wideman, who left Villa for Boro in 2016, can play a big part in the tie.
“I think there were times today when Adama had good patches, he’s a terrific player he’s a fantastic talent and on his day he can win things. It’s still all to play for on Tuesday.”